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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Preakness Picks

- Today is a work and travel day, as we're leaving for Nashville in the early evening....hopefully. The weather forecast is grim. Doesn't look good for 'fast and firm' at Belmont this weekend.

So, here are my Preakness picks. I'm going to go down the field in order of preference.

- Street Sense (Street Cry) - I just don't see any compelling reason to oppose him here other than perhaps price. For one thing, I think he has the best chance of of the Derby top three to run back to, or exceed that effort two weeks later. The flip side of 'he had an easy trip', is that he had an easy trip. He traveled less ground, had no stress and won with plenty left in the tank. Will he get another rail trip? I wouldn't be so sure that he won't. When he gets ready to roll, according to my perception of how the race will play out, the horses on or near the lead will be tiring and drifting off the rail, King of the Roxy will be making a move, Circular Quay will be five wide, and shame on the riders of the horses that don't belong if they go out of their way to impede him. Personally, I don't think that would happen, and that he can win the race even if he has to go around horses.

- Circular Quay (Thunder Gulch) - I've been agonizing back and forth on him but I'll use him in exactas (Crist thinks that combo could pay $30) and triples. He was extremely wide and had tons of trouble in the Derby, and should have a much better journey here in a seven horse field that may be strung out a bit. I think the combination of a fast pace and the small field will be such that he should be along for a share.

- King of the Roxy - I've watched this horse with some interest since Team Valor purchased him last summer. He's a modestly bred son of Littlexpectations who sold at auction for $8,000; and Barry Irwin picked him out watching him graduate at Hollywood Park on TV. He liked the way the horse took the turn, and I've watched that race and you can see what Mr. Irwin saw. He made a similar move, though a four wide one, in the one turn Hutcheson; and in the Santa Anita Derby, he was three wide throughout the turn and propelled to the lead as they straightened away. So I think perhaps the reason they targeted the Preakness is a feeling that the colt could prove to be agile on the tight Pimlico turns and make some hay at that point. I'm thinking he could be right there as they turn for home - as he's been in all of his races other than the BC. Garrett Gomez riding for the first time doesn't hurt either. And while it seems as if even his connections don't expect him to last, I'll use him as high as second underneath Street Sense.

- Curlin (Smart Strike) - Well, I've changed my opinion here. I was thinking Curlin at various times during the week, but I'm bothered by the possibility of too much, too soon. It's been a pretty wild ride for a colt who didn't debut until Feb 3 of this year, and who will now be making his fifth start since then, and his second in two weeks against top competition. He may have gained some good experience in the Derby, but this still seems a lot to ask. Having said that, I'm too chicken to leave him off my tickets entirely.

- Hard Spun (Danzig) - I don't see him getting away to a clear lead this time even if he goes 46 and change. In fact, with Flying First Class in the race, he seems unlikely to have the lead in any event; and I certainly don't see him getting away with another 50 4/5 second half without King of the Roxy or Curlin moving to engage him. Can he rate? He did a bit in the Lane's End, but note the chart comment that he pressed the pace while restrained, and you can see that Pino had all he could handle, especially on the first turn. Given recent events, I'm thinking that the horse just wants to go, and that he could prove headstrong when confronted with Flying First Class and Xchanger early. He tired in that infamous workout, tired in the Derby, where he raced on a live rail, and I think he'll tire in the Preakness, thus creating some value in the exotics.

- Flying First Class (Perfect Mandate / Gone West) - He was crushed by Curlin in his two two-turn races. I see Lukas is really talking him up, and he's no doubt a very fast horse, but he hasn't proven he can handle the route. However, I'm counting on him to be a strong factor early.

- Xchanger - A reader pointed out that I overlooked the fact that this son of Exchange Rate has a race over the track - his recent wire to wire domination of the Tesio. Breaking from the two, he'll contend for a spot on the lead along the rail. Don't know if he'll get it over Lukas' horse, but I expect him to be an early factor.

- C P West (Came Home) - Note that it's C P West, not CP West.

- Mint Slewlep (Who Cares?) - Not only does he no shot, he'll likely be an underlay too.

So I'll use Street Sense on top of the two Pletchers in the exactas, and throw Curlin into the mix for the triples.


Anonymous said...

Xchanger outran Flying First Class in the Rebel and led most of the way before tiring. However, the connections have said that they want the horse to rate off the pace which leaves Flying First Class on the lead. Either way both horses fell apart at Oaklawn and needed the drop to ungraded stakes to win. Maybe FFC gets brave and takes them a long way or more likely he falls apart after a mile.

I see Hard Spun sitting in 2nd/3rd and taking the lead when they turn for home. Street Sense will make his run and those two should fill the exacta once again.

Curlin does not impress me yet. He has been the benefactor of slow early fractions in his two stakes wins and until he proves he can run the same final figure with a faster pace he has no chance.

Circular Quay has "Mr. Go Wide" in the saddle and that will not bode well for him. When he swings 5 or 6 wide turning for home and Street Sense goes up the inside it will be game over.

King of the Roxy benefits by getting "Go-go" in the saddle and even though I am not a big fan of his he is a better rider then "Mr Go Wide." This horse was dead tired in the final fulrong of the SA Derby, but he was coming in off only one sprint. I do not think he can win, but he could sneak into the tri/super.

C P West and Mint Slewlep are tosses and it would be shocking if either lands in the super.

1. Hard Spun
2. Street Sense
3. King of the Roxy


Anonymous said...

I see Xchanger getting in the money, maybe second, as horses that have won at Pimlico frequently do well in the Preakness.

Erin said...

This was a tough one with all the mediocrity going around this season. Thank goodness for a small Preakness field and a good ratio of toss-outs. I've got a $101.80 winning exacta ticket in my pocket from the Derby, and I reinvested $29 on the Preakness:

$2 exactas:
SS/CQ, Curlin, and HS ($6)
HS/SS, CQ, and Curlin ($6)

$1 trifecta:
SS/CQ, Curlin and HS/KotR ($3)

$1 super:
Curlin, HS, SS/Curlin, HS, SS/CQ, Curlin, HS, SS/CQ, Curlin, HS, SS ($12)

and, finally, on a whim,
$2 win on Xchanger (Lenny's post considered but prior to onecalicocat's. When did Xchanger become a wise-guy pick?)

Anonymous said...

>>When did Xchanger become a wise-guy pick?

Yeah, he seems to be picking up support. Nick Kling in the Troy Record makes a case for him too.

Anonymous said...

Re Xchanger, isn't this the colt the connections were desperately trying to sell before the Derby, but recieved zero takers?

Can not take him seriously if not one of the Derby owner wannabees would plunk down a couple of million for this guy just to get seats to the big race. He must really have some holes.

Just box the 4 returnees from KY in the TRI's and hope CQ can make the payoff worthwhile. Don't try to get too fancy.

Mr. Ed

Anonymous said...

I'll try Curlin here over Street Sense, Circular Quay and Hard Spun. Curlin was far off the pace for the first time and didn't have a great trip in the Derby. A much better scenario figures this time around so we'll see if he's good enough. I think Street Sense is going to be pounded so I'll take a stand against. I don't like King of the Roxy in here at all. I won't be too sad if Street Sense wins though because the triple crown chase is always a lot of fun.

Anonymous said...

It seems obvious to me that despite his talent, King of the Roxy is not cut out to run 1 3/16. Maybe I am missing something? Also, Flying First Class has only won races less than a mile. His performance pretty much is linearly correlated with negative distance. Xchanger has the mud number going for him, but now it looks like a dry track, and sure he ran over this track and won, but is that enough to catapult him ahead of the the Derby 1-2-3? Maybe the Derby 6...

Big wildcards are Circular Quay, who might be ready to explode, proving that he should have had another prep before the derby and exploded in THAT race, and Curlin, who has not proven himself, but never had to, and in the Derby, come on, he was boxed in.

I can't see Circular Quay winning, but Curlin sure could.

Negative wild card is Hard Spun. He could be consistent or he could bounce and finish 5th. Even consistent, SS could pass him, unless HE bounces, but I do not see that.

I think I'll get a superfecta ticket that looks like this:

SS,C,HS/HS,C,SS/HS,C,SS,CQ,Xch/all but MintS and CPWest.

Too narrow? At $1 it's only $72, I think. It would be less if I split it up and insisted on Curlin and SS in the top 3.

Or maybe I should put $72 on Street Sense to show, and go home with $80.

Anonymous said...

I posted this above under the Haskin banner, but my fine tuned selection is as follows;

And that winner is....

Street Sense wins for fun and heads to Belmont with only R2R between him and The Triple Crown.

CQ and KOTR may fill out the TRI, and will be in the "under" slots with HS just in case.

Curlin ran no better than CQ and Tiago in the Derby and figures to regress off his toughest effort to date, although he will serve so soften HS in the mid part of the contest.

Hard Spun, despite all the talk about rating, appears a pure "need the lead" type to me, and will be Hard Pushed early by "Lukas' Ego" and horse X, not affording him his mid- race nap. After fending off those two during the first 6f, he will have to deal with the next wave of Curlin and KOTR. Will have nothing left turning for home.

Mr. Irwin, if you and your partners are still reading, you are in for a thrill as you will inherit the lead at the eighth pole, but, in almost a replay of the SA Derby, this time it will be Street Sense working out the inside trip to run you down. You will need to hold off the outside closing CQ for the place. No disgrace.


The Triple Crown awaits.

Mr. ED

Erin said...

As far as including these weak longshots, you just never know when a good horse is gonna get a bad trip. CQ might be third best but when he doesn't get the trip, who inherits it? You have to consider who could be an "if... then" horse in the exotics.